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CLINICAL: OPTICAL

JUST DO IT DIFFERENTLY

TAKE CUES FROM THE CONSUMER TO ADAPT YOUR OPTICAL

ONE OF my favorite podcasts is NPR’s “How I Built This.” It tells remarkable stories of well-known companies and how they became successful. (Take a listen to it here: http://n.pr/2i7QNIi .)

The December podcast told the story of Yvon Chouinard, who created Patagonia, a California-based outdoor clothing line. Specifically, the podcast described an innovative company that believes if you wait for your customers to tell you what they want — you’re too late. If you adopt a business philosophy like this, it can transform your practice. Look to brands, such as Patagonia, Amazon, Lululemon and Athleta, to show you how.

TELL CONSUMERS WHAT THEY NEED

Like Patagonia, you can offer your patients products, such as computer glasses, that they don’t know the benefits of yet. By demonstrating how they outperform all-purpose PALs during your exam and offering a 30-day trial period, you can double your optical sales for selected presbyopic patients. This is doing optical retail differently.

PUT QUALITY OVER PRICE

Patagonia doesn’t sell cheap clothing. It’s better quality, and they let people pay for that. Many optical locations believe that most patients want cheap glasses, so the bulk of their inventory is low price. But, look around and see what people are willing to spend their money on. For example, how often do you see a $400 Coach purse a patient brings in to your exam room?

Offer high-quality brands of eyewear that patients can’t get everywhere else, and tell them the brand’s story: Draw the consumer in to the details, materials and design of the frames you sell, and help them fall in love with the glasses. (Offer no-interest, six-month financing programs.) That is doing optical retail differently.

Draw the consumer in with details, and tell the brand’s story.
PHOTO CREDIT: Atelier 211/stock.adobe.com

CREATE AN EXPERIENCE

There’s a reason retailers, like Amazon, which began online, have added brick-and-mortar stores. In doing so, Amazon capitalizes on those retail spaces people prefer to shop in person. For example, it recently announced its intent to buy Whole Foods, bringing under the tech giant a wealth of health food stores, and maintains book stores in prominent cities, such as Seattle and Chicago.

The future of retail uses the physical space as places for brand experiences. You can create these brand experiences in your optical. Upgrade with changes in lighting, merchandising and point-of-purchase digital devices that illustrate the brands’ stories while the patient shops. Hire engaged optical staff who makes buying fun. Give patients personalized embossed cases for their spectacles and functional shopping bags that they can use for years around their houses (think Lululemon and Athleta). That is doing optical differently.

DO IT DIFFERENTLY

To be successful, you can’t go up against the big companies. They’ll kill you. Just do it differently. Do optical in a way that other practices haven’t thought of yet. OM